Pros and Cons of Various Dental Crown Materials
Improved crown materials give you results you’ll love.
Humans are master craftspeople and artists. Whether we’re creating tools, furniture, clothing, or art for art’s sake, we’re always experimenting with and improving the materials and techniques we use to create the best version possible for the use or appearance we have in mind. This trial-and-error process, paired with steadily improving technology, has led to huge advances in medical fields like prosthetics. Prosthetics today feel, function, and look more natural than they ever have before, with plenty of choices to help you choose the best treatment for you. This holds just as true for dental prosthetics! When you begin looking into getting a dental crown, you’ll likely notice that it can be made from several different materials. Over the years, advances in technology have resulted in the creation of new materials that crowns can be made from, each with unique strengths and weaknesses.
The result is a treatment process that gives you an incredible amount of control, allowing you to research different crown materials and choose the one that meets your treatment needs as well as your preferences. If you’re not familiar with your options or what the benefits and downsides of each are, however, don’t worry! We always want you to feel confident in your treatment, so we’ve broken down the pros and cons of different tooth crown materials to help you make a confident, informed decision about your treatment. You’ll find out also why here at Valley Dental, we have chosen zirconia crowns as the best possible dental crown option.
The biggest benefits metal crowns have to offer are strength and durability. Their strength allows them to be made thinner than typical porcelain crowns, saving more of your natural tooth structure in the process. Saving more of your natural tooth is better for your long-term oral health, but metal crowns cause wear on your surrounding teeth. Metal crowns are incredibly durable, though, so they’re much less likely to chip or break than other types of crowns and have the potential to last 20 years or more. The greatest risk to their durability is the fact that they expand and contract in response to changing temperatures in your mouth, which can damage nearby teeth or cause the crown to crack or fail earlier than it otherwise would.
Metal crowns stand out in your mouth and can stain the gums around the tooth gray, however, so it’s usually best to get them on back molars. This also makes the most use of the crowns’ strength and durability, as your back molars are put under the most force as you chew. Some people have metal allergies or sensitivities, however, so metal crowns aren’t necessarily an ideal option for everyone. It’s a good idea to look into whether or not you have an allergy or sensitivity to one of the metals that metal crowns are made from before placing one in your mouth.
We’ve been making crowns out of gold since we started creating them—all the way back in 166 AD! Nowadays, gold crowns are made from gold as well as a few other metal alloys, so they’re not pure gold. This reduces the cost. However, it also means that while you’re less likely to experience a reaction from a metal sensitivity or allergy, it’s still possible. You’ll want to make sure you won’t have a reaction before you choose this type of crown.
Since gold crowns are also made of metal, they share many of the same pros and cons. They’re strong and durable, with the potential to last 20 years or more, but they expand and contract with changing temperatures. They stand out on your teeth even more than metal crowns, so they’re best used on your back molars. Though they can also wear down nearby teeth, they do so to a lesser extent than metal crowns. Gold is softer than other metals, so the combination of gold and metal allows the crown to be gentler without losing strength and durability. Like metal crowns, this also allows them to be made thinner than materials like traditional porcelain, saving more of your natural tooth structure. They’re a good option if you habitually clench or grind your teeth, as they have the strength to withstand the pressure but are gentler on surrounding teeth than metal crowns.
If you’re looking for a dental crown that blends in with your natural teeth, a porcelain crown is one of your best options. They’re highly customizable, so you can choose your crown’s size and shape, and also match its shade to your natural teeth. The resulting crown looks and feels natural, fitting perfectly and blending in with your smile. Porcelain crowns aren’t as strong as metal or gold crowns, however, so they need to be made thicker and thus they require your dentist to remove more of your healthy tooth structure. They’re also more prone to chipping, cracking, and breaking than metal and gold crowns, making them one of the weaker crown options. Still, they’re not fragile. They’re about as strong as your natural teeth, so you simply have to care for your porcelain tooth crown in the same way you do your other teeth. Don’t use porcelain crowns or natural teeth as tools to open packaging, and wear a nightguard to sleep if you know that you clench or grind your teeth at night.
With proper care and oral hygiene, porcelain crowns can last around 15 years or more. That’s still a very long time! Plus, the fact that porcelain crowns don’t contain metal does make them weaker, but it’s a trade-off. Without metal, porcelain crowns won’t expand or contract due to changing temperatures and they won’t cause irritation or a reaction in your mouth if you have a metal allergy or sensitivity. This makes them a great alternative for many people.
Porcelain and ceramic crowns share enough of the same pros and cons that many people mistakenly use the terms interchangeably, but they are different. Ceramic and porcelain crowns are both customizable, but ceramic crowns mimic the appearance of natural teeth even better than porcelain. This makes them a great choice for front teeth, as they’ll blend into your smile perfectly. Like porcelain crowns, they’re weaker than metal crowns and require your dentist to remove more of your natural tooth structure, but they don’t react to changing temperatures and won’t cause a reaction from a metal allergy or sensitivity. Their natural appearance makes them a great choice for front teeth in particular, though ceramic and porcelain crowns can both be placed on molars as well. With proper care, your ceramic crown should last around 15 years or more.
Here at Valley Dental, we use zirconia crowns as the absolute best option out there. While there are definitely strong points about other types of crown materials, zirconia combines the best of them all into one excellent offering!
Zirconia crowns are a relatively new type of crown that’s considered ceramic, but they’re unique enough to merit their own section. They’re made using a metal alloy related to titanium, which gives these crowns many of the benefits of both ceramic and metal crowns—with the biocompatibility of titanium thrown in as well. Since they’re biocompatible, they won’t cause a reaction from a metal allergy or sensitivity. Despite this, zirconia crowns have the strength and durability of metal crowns, so they’re much less likely than porcelain or ceramic crowns to chip, crack, or break. This strength also allows them to be made thinner, with advanced technology enabling lab-created zirconia crowns to achieve the perfect fit on your tooth—even better than metal crowns! As a result, they save even more of your natural tooth structure and feel incredibly natural, like they belong in your mouth!
Zirconia crowns are also just as customizable as porcelain crowns, with a white color that’s easy to tint to match the shade of your natural teeth. Since these crowns are relatively new on the market, we’re not completely sure how long they’ll last, but their similar durability to metal crowns gives us an idea. With proper care, we estimate that a zirconia tooth crown should last you 15 years or more— and potentially for a lifetime!
If you value your crown’s appearance and durability, zirconia is the optimal option. When it comes to dental crown materials, zirconia crowns have the best of both worlds, which is why we offer them to our patients!
When one of your teeth is severely damaged, its function, health, and even appearance aren’t lost forever. Using artistic dentistry techniques, your dentist and the master craftspeople in nearby labs work together to create a dental crown that helps your smile stay beautiful—or even become more beautiful than ever! If you’d like to learn more about modern dental crown materials or find the best dentist around Anchorage or Wasilla, Alaska, to restore your smile, feel free to schedule a consultation with us at any time!